Harvard College (part of Harvard University) revoked acceptance offers for a group of prospective undergraduate students after a lewd messaging group was discovered. According to The Harvard Crimson, about 10 students were found responsible for creating and participating in a Facebook messaging group titled “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens.”
As the group began to grow in membership, administrators became aware of its existence in the Spring. That’s when they contacted members of the group and asked them to show them the content that had been previously shared; what they found was deeply concerning.
According to incoming freshman Jessica Zhang, collegiate messaging groups like these tend to be much more lighthearted. “A lot of students were excited about forming group chats with people who shared similar interests.” Zhang then joined the troublesome subgroup after “someone posted about starting a chat for people who liked memes.”
In that group, the content was much darker. It’s been reported that many of the memes shared in the group touched on sexual assault, child abuse, and the Holocaust. A particularly horrifying meme referred to the hanging of a Mexican child as “piñata time.”
Many of the active participants in the group received a letter from the admissions office advising them that their statuses were under review. The letter read, “The Admissions Committee was disappointed to learn that several students in a private group chat for the Class of 2021 were sending messages that contained offensive messages and graphics . . . We are asking that you submit a statement by tomorrow at noon to explain your contributions and actions for discussion with the Admissions Committee.”
Members of the group who did not participate or share memes did not receive the letter. Among them is Zhang, who said she understands the administration’s decision. “I appreciate humor, but there are so many topics that just should not be joked about. I respect the decision of the admissions officers to rescind the offers because those actions really spoke about the students’ true characters,” she said. “I do not know how those offensive images could be defended.”